This was the view from my window just a few days ago. Outside temperature was about seven degrees. On one hand, the cold and snow make for difficult horse-chores conditions. On the other hand, the beauty of all that powder can’t be denied.
For more of my thoughts on Winter horse-keeping, read my previous post on the subject at https://thebackyardhorseblog.com/2020/02/17/the-good-about-backyard-horse-keeping-in-winter-snow/.
Now that temperatures will soon rise and the Spring rainy season arrives, all that lovely snow will help the ground turn to mud. Much like Winter, the Spring weather presents challenges to my daily horse keeping.
Once mud arrives, it is difficult to control. Your best bet is to make changes to your horse-housing areas ahead of the muddy season. Over the years, I have paid for a few improvements to my property. But even those changes have not solved my problems entirely.
Currently I have are two areas constructed with a crushed limestone footing. The area around the horse-paddock shelter and my round pen had layers of ground removed. Crushed limestone (compacted and leveled) was put in its place. In the round pen, there is also a layer of geotextile fabric placed between the base layer and the compacted footing. The footing around the shed allows the horses to have a place to stand out of the mud. The round pen footing allows me a place to ride mud-free.
The area around the horses’ run-in-shed was originally installed in 2013. In 2019, it was resurfaced with additional limestone. That same year, I had the round pen footing installed. It is a definite blessing to have those areas mud-free (except for what the horses track onto the surfaces from other areas- there is maintenance involved in trying to keep them clean). Pre-installation, I used to have my boots sucked off by mud in the horse paddock. And the horses would have to huddle inside the run-in-shed if they wanted to stand out of the mud. Riding in the round pen was out of the question anytime the ground got wet.
Unfortunately, in between the paddock and the round pen is mostly open ground that is not protected. This limits how many times I can take a horse back and forth during the wet season before everything gets churned up. Maybe someday I can have a walk-way of sorts constructed. I could then move horses over that ground without creating a mess. If I really want to ride in the round pen but the ground between the paddock and the round pen is super sloppy, I lay down a series of tarps for protection. It adds a lot of work for me and is tricky to do in the wind, but sometimes a woman just has to ride!
If you have been thinking about doing something similar to your own place, I gathered a few links to give you some ideas. Every property, location and budget is different. It is good to be familiar with multiple options for tackling this mud problem in your own area.
What about you? Assuming you even have a muddy season in your area, how do you cope?